There's no real end to the money you can make on eBay - when it comes to boosting your income, or even providing one in the first place, the potential is huge. This is one of the main reasons that the site now has more than 110 million active users.
Whether you're running your own e-commerce business or just trying to de-clutter the house, your sales strategy will determine how successful you are at generating interest and, in turn, bids. As is the case with most retailers, the seasons will play a big part in this. Consumer behaviour changes constantly throughout the year so it makes sense to adapt your approach accordingly. With this in mind, here are some tips...
eBay is a magical place as it is, but when it gets to spring the site is flooded with all sorts of interesting items. As the unofficial season of cleaning, it's perfectly understandable too; everyone's in the mood to de-clutter. For a seller, this isn't always great news as more competition means lower prices. That said, the start of spring does act as something of a prelude to summer - so think about how this will affect what shoppers are looking for.
For a start, the weather (usually) begins to improve around March and April. While it's not always warm enough to ditch the jeans and jackets, the odd cloudless sky should help to remind people that the sun is on its way. As a result, the interest in lighter clothing starts to increase, with shorts, sunglasses and summer dresses certain to sell superbly. Holiday preparations are also likely to have an impact.
Also, with the upcoming months in mind, many of the UK's major music festivals are announced around March. With the line-ups revealed for Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds and Latitude among others, the building hype sparks many welly-wearing mud-dwellers into collecting the gear they need. Of course, camping equipment is an obvious one here but also think about the other things people take to such events - iPod speakers, portable smartphone chargers and band merchandise are all popular.
When summer itself arrives, people will still be refreshing their wardrobes and buying festival gear, but your audience should get even wider than this. One of the biggest markets here will be parents, who will be buying for two main reasons: the summer holidays and the start of the new school term.
Many parents take their annual leave between July and September as this is when their children are home from school. As such, there's likely to be a surge in demand for all of the things that will keep young, active minds occupied throughout the long summer days. Expect to see outdoor games and leisure equipment snapped up quickly, with sporting goods particularly popular.
As the holidays wind down towards the end of August, getting kids ready for their next year at school becomes the priority for many households, and consumer behaviour tends to reflect this. More and more people are turning to eBay to source their supplies so stationery and children's clothing tend to be big sellers.
Think about the major events taking place throughout the summer. Sporting occasions like football World Cups and Olympic Games often inspire people to buy team jerseys or even take up the activities themselves. The football season also starts in August and this can have a similar impact.
When the weather starts to turn British again and the days get shorter, many people look to sell their sports and leisure equipment for the off-season. For the same reason, there won't be too many people buying so try to keep hold of items like bicycles, golf clubs and tents until demand picks up again next year. Instead, focus on the things that people will need for winter.
Of course, the most obvious place to start here is clothing. In the same way that spring can be seen as a preliminary summer, autumn will act as a reminder that winter is on its way. As a result, heavier garments like chunky-knit jumpers, leather boots and waterproof overcoats will become more popular.
Towards the end of autumn, thoughts of Christmas are likely to set in for most people. With high street shops stocking all things Santa-related as early as October these days, the gift lists will come out around now. Those who like to be prepared in advance may even begin their shopping beforehand so think about what could be on-trend this year. Toys will be big sellers so be sure to look at the year's 'most wanted' lists that tend to be published in newspapers around November.
The sales of pre-owned items will more than likely drop around now as people look to ensure their loved ones are happy with what they receive. It could be an idea to keep hold of any unwanted gifts you get yourself so they can be sold around this time the following year - just be sure to keep the packaging intact.
In most people's ideal worlds, all of the Christmas shopping would be finished by December but this is rarely the case for anyone. Last-minute gifts will be bought right up until a few days before the big day so you may even be able to raise prices as panic-buying becomes more common. Once December is up though, bear in mind that most people will have spent a lot of money, so finding bargains is likely to be top of the agenda.
Fitness is obviously a hot topic in January as people look to counteract festive overindulgence. Sports equipment sells well around now but the poor weather will make indoor activities more popular so gym equipment is often a safe bet. As well as machinery and clothing, though, consider the other items people usually want for exercising - headphones, mp3 players and GPS devices are all good examples.
In January and February, eBay's listings are usually full of unwanted gifts so it's unlikely that items like DVDs, games and books will be particularly big sellers. Those related to cooking and fitness, however, can be exceptions. Eating healthily and exercising are two of the most common New Year's resolutions so be sure to capitalise on this.
Using the seasons to your advantage is one of the best ways to maximise the potential of an eBay account. With a mix of careful thinking and thorough planning, you should be well on your way to seller success.